Hardwiring and softwiring corporate responsibility: a vital combination

Monique de Wit (Sustainable Development/HSE Advisor at Shell International Exploration and Production BV, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.)
Mark Wade (Principal Consultant, Leadership Development at Shell International Ltd, Shell Centre, London, UK.)
Esther Schouten (PhD Candidate in Business and Human Rights based at Shell International Ltd, The Hague, The Netherlands.)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Publication date: 1 August 2006



This case study paper has the purpose of showing that both processes of hardwiring and soft wiring together is essential for embedding corporate responsibility across a global organisation to achieve lasting change.


The approach taken in this paper is first to describe the experiences in the Shell Group in terms of tools and approaches. In Shell, governance and business processes are being aligned, “hardwired”, while communications, leadership development programmes and competency frameworks reach the “hearts and minds” of Shell people – “soft wiring”. Informal networks tap into the enthusiasm of people, developing intrinsic motivation. These experiences of Shell are then compared with the sense making model of Cramer et al.


The findings show a high level of alignment.

Practical implications

The practical implication of this finding is that hardwiring and softwiring processes appear to be a vital combination for changing the way business do things.


The value of this paper lies in making the business efforts of embedding corporate responsibility into business practice more effective by focussing on hardwiring and softwiring at the same time.



de Wit, M., Wade, M. and Schouten, E. (2006), "Hardwiring and softwiring corporate responsibility: a vital combination", Corporate Governance, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 491-505. https://doi.org/10.1108/14720700610689595



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below

You may be able to access this content by logging in via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.
If you think you should have access to this content, click the button to contact our support team.